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Myth of Serendipity: This Random World



Steven Dietz explores the myth of serendipity in his play This Random World, which streams the weekend of May 22-23rd. The play is not about what happens but about what doesn’t happen. All of the characters in the play are connected by one degree of separation. Yet they can pass each other on the street without recognition. The comedy comes from the actors walking through life without ever realizing that if they had heard the phone ring or stayed in the room just one minute longer, their life would be propelled in a completely opposite direction.


The Ward Family is comprised of a spry seventies mom “Scottie” Ward (Charlotte J. Headrick), son Tim Ward (Don Taco), and daughter Beth Ward (Arlee Olson). The senior matriarch's healthcare worker Bernadette (Danyelle Tinker), and her sister Rhonda (Michaela Lonning) live parallel but separate lives to the two Ward siblings.


The plot develops in short steps starting with a suggestion from Beth that Tim should write his own obituary even though he is only 29 years old. Beth then immediately leaves for an adventure tour in the Himalayas where she meets the ex-boyfriend Gary (Michael Wren ) of Tim’s ex-girlfriend Claire (Harriet Owen Nixon). Telling you any more about the result of the erroneously published obituary would spoil the fun of the progressively complex relationships.


We come to expect certain rules from playwrights to conform to our expectations about drama. Dietz has written a play that disregards those expectations. It’s as if Lassie walked out the door and never came back home or Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan continued to troll each other’s email account. In most plays, even if there are two missed chances to advance the plot, the third time solves any outstanding issues. Dietz’s breaks all the rules in a fast-paced comedy that will challenge your belief that you control your life’s direction. Scottie’s philosophy rejects a description of life as something punctuated by occasional accidents. She believes life consists only of accidents. The occurrence and development of events by chance is all there is. Remarkably, the characters Dietz chose to break the rules, look very much like us.


Director John Elliott has directed one play for MRTC in each of our eight seasons. His last three shows were Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and On the Verge by Eric Overmyer. John is impossible to button-hole into one type of play. He submits plays from many genres stretching from fantasy thorough comedy to serious drama. He continues to bring plays to the mid-Willamette Valley that are not normally performed here.



This Random World will be available to stream the weekend of May 22-23rd. Purchase tickets at https://tinyurl.com/trwrld. You will receive a link to the streaming site via email. The price is on a sliding scale; you can pick what you pay for tickets. Suggested prices range from $10 to $20 dollars. A $2.00 processing fee will be added to all tickets purchased online. You can also purchase tickets by calling the Business Office at 541-758-7827. Closed Captioning is available.

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